Frequently Asked Questions For Prospective Scholars

What is the University of Chicago Collegiate Scholars Program (UCCSP)?

UCCSP is a three-year enrichment program for Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students. We help CPS students get into highly selective colleges, apply for scholarships, and make the connection between college and a career. This program is not a school and we do not give out scholarships to students.

Scholars partake in six weeks of summer courses at the University of Chicago, taught by University of Chicago faculty. During the school year, scholars participate in leadership, cultural, lecture, and civic engagement enrichment activities, as well as occasional full-group meetings and workshops on evenings and weekends. 

What is the time commitment for the Collegiate Scholars Program? How long is the program?

Scholars make a three-year commitment to our program.  They begin the summer after their first year of high school and continue until they graduate from high school.

Our summer program runs six weeks and consists of academic courses taught by University of Chicago faculty, extra-curricular activities, and electives.  Most scholars are on campus Monday-Friday from 8:30am-5:00pm, with breaks throughout the day to complete homework and engage in social activities. Anticipated dates for the Summer 2018 session are June 25 through August 3, 2018 (subject to change based on any adjustments to the CPS calendar). Incoming first year scholars will be expected to attend an overnight orientation on Friday June 22 through Saturday June 23, 2017.

There is an optional college tour for UCCSP scholars that takes place the week directly following the end of the program; exact dates/times vary every year and are usually made available about a third of the way through the academic year. 

During the academic year, scholars participate in events from September to May. They are allowed to choose a combination of credits in order to have 10 credits by May.

  • The requirements include:
  • 2 Leadership events
  • 2 STEM events
  • 2 College Access events
  • The remaining 4 events can come from any of the above categories or the following categories:
  • Arts and Culture events
  • Civic Engagement Events
  • Career Readiness Events
  • There are also the following requirements that don't count as credits:
  • 1 Advising session
  • Any mandatory workshops, usually two per year, dates are known well in advance.

Collegiate Scholars are allowed to choose which events to attend that will fit into their schedules and match their interests. We only ask that the scholars complete the requirements in a timely manner. The events are usually on the weekends and evenings and are from 1-3 hours in duration. 

How is UCCSP affiliated with the University of Chicago?

The University of Chicago created the Collegiate Scholars Program to help students and their families in realizing the goal of attending and achieving success at the nation’s top colleges and universities. UCCSP is housed within the Office of Civic Engagement. We leverage resources at the university to provide excellent experiences for our scholars. These resources include: classrooms, labs, faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, social/emotional support services and more. Scholars will complete their three years with UCCSP feeling like full-fledged UChicago students. 

How do you become a Collegiate Scholar?

To become a Collegiate Scholar you need to submit your completed application on or before the application deadline of Feburary 11th, 2018. The program will consider only those applications that are complete and submitted on time. Finalists will be asked to come to the University of Chicago campus in late March/early April to interview along with a parent or guardian. Admitted students will be notified in late April/early May. 

Who is eligible to apply?

To be eligible for Collegiate Scholars, a student must be a current freshman in a Chicago public high school (including neighborhood, charter and selective enrollment). We will not accept any student that is not currently enrolled in a Chicago public high school or is in any grade that is below or above freshman year in high school (current Class of 2021). If a scholar transfers out of a Chicago public school, that scholar may be subject to expulsion from the program.

There are no academic, citizenship, income or demographic eligibility requirements for admission. All interested scholars are encouraged to apply.  

Each year we seek a diverse group of high school freshmen to join our program. Strong applicants embody the following characteristics: 

  • Ability to Overcome Obstacles: Demonstrated perseverance when presented with a challenge; Demonstrated ability to seek and utilize resources; Demonstrated ability to think critically to solve problems
  • Commitment to Managing Short- and Long-Term Goals: Demonstrated ability to fulfill commitments and manage and prioritize time; Demonstrated ability to choose pathways that will lead to long-term success
  • Intellectual Curiosity: Demonstrated ability to handle a challenging load of courses; Demonstrated desire to learn from experiences inside and outside of the classroom; Demonstrated ability to think critically
  • Self Reflection: Demonstrated ability to learn from successes and failures; Demonstrated ability to be open to constructive feedback; Demonstrated desire to grow as a scholar and a human being
  • Unique Worldview and/or Interests: Applicant presents experiences, perspective, goals or a resume that is unique; Showcases what makes him/her/them special and stand out from the crowd

What are the characteristics that you look for in the admission process?

We are looking for exceptional high school students who are involved in extracurricular activities and are academically strong and involved in their schools and communities.  We also look for candidates who are able to overcome challenges and work well with others.  In addition, candidates must value a Liberal Arts education; they should be eager to be exposed to new ideas, people, and experiences. 

I can’t log into the application, can you help me?

We do not manage the technical side of our application. We use a portal called SmarterSelect. If you have a technical issue (forgot password, website is slow, trouble uploading document, etc.) go to Zendesk SmarterSelect  to submit a request for help. 

Click on the SUBMIT A REQUEST tab and fill out the information required about the issue you are having. If you do not get a response within 24 hours, please contact

Where can I send my transcripts/letters of recommendation?

You can submit all of the documents online. Documents will not be accepted by any other system. 

I just got a letter about your program; can you tell me more about the Collegiate Scholars Program?

  • We are an intensive academic enrichment and college access program for Chicago Public High School Students.
  • The majority of our programming takes place in the summer. During the summer, scholars are required to take advanced college preparatory courses in math, science and humanities taught by faculty at the University of Chicago.
  • During the academic year, Collegiate Scholars are required to participate in arts/cultural, leadership, college access workshops, civic engagement, social and career exploration events.

What kind of classes do you offer?

All first year Scholars are required to take a math/science course, a humanities course and a writing course. Every year, we offer exciting electives. Summer 2017 courses have not yet been announced, but in the past we have offered classes, like Wonders of Physics, Taste of the Social Sciences, Introduction to Statistics, Group Study: Calculus, Introduction to Filmmaking, What is a Person?, among others.  

For more information about courses visit our current scholars page.

Do I get college credit or high school credit for these classes?

You do not get credit for UCCSP courses.  You will earn grades to monitor your success in the program and to showcase your hard work to colleges when it comes time to apply. Courses expose scholars to college-level learning and prepare them for a competitive college environment. You can apply to College Bridge classes during your summer before your junior or senior year in high school.  The College Bridge courses can be used as college credit.

Is there a cost to participate in the program?

There is a annual activity fee of $350 that is required, however financial hardship is not--and will never be--a reason a candidate is not accepted into the program or retained for the full three-year commitment. For any family unable to pay the activity fee, we create payment plans or work with our fundraising committee to meet the financial requirement. For additional activity fee questions, please contact our office at (773) 834-2774.

I missed the deadline, can I apply next year? Or I’m a sophomore, can I apply? I’m not a Chicago Public School student, can I apply?

No. Applicants can ONLY be accepted during their freshman year of high school. Currently, we are accepting applications from the Class of 2021.  The applicants must also be a Chicago Public School student or a Charter School student under Chicago Public Schools. For those not eligible, there are many additional programs we suggest candidates explore:

We also highly recommend application to the IIT Global Leaders Program your sophomore year and Chicago Scholars your junior year. 

When is the deadline?

The Class of 2021 application deadline is February 11th, 2018.  We DO NOT accept late applications. 

What if I do not get everything in on time?

Your application will be considered incomplete and will not be considered for admission.  

What if I can’t be here this summer …or the next summer …or the next summer?

All students are required to participate every summer. Family vacations, travel abroad, other programs--we know that there are so many wonderful things you want to spend your time doing. UCCSP is a commitment, and if admitted, we expect you to follow through on that commitment. We do our best to let our scholars and families know dates of programs and events well in advance so they can plan their scheduled accordinly.

Our scholars and families make some tough choices about how to spend their time, but the sacrifices they sometimes have to make are well worth the reward of the additional exploration, networking, resources and support they gain from being members of the UCCSP family.